Chief Justice John Roberts did indeed show "leadership," but in the wrong direction ("On Leadership," July 5).

Like Owen Roberts in 1937, he rescued the court from the charge of right-wing obstructionism. But see what he extracted in return: In denying that the health plan could be justified under the Commerce Clause, he undercut the constitutional basis of most progressive federal regulation.

And by allowing states to opt out, he resurrected the principle of state nullification of federal laws. This was an issue in Andrew Jackson's time, in the long run up to the Civil War. Georgia tried it, Jackson threatened to send in the army, and the union held for another quarter century.

Now, it seems, we'll have to re-litigate American history.

Lee Wakefield, Arcata

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